Art into commodity and artist into a brand

Art into commodity and artist into a brand

London, April the 4th, a long queue of visitors rolls out in front of the main entrance of the Tate Modern. All of them are there for one reason, or better, for one person: Damien Hirst. Hundreds of newspaper’s articles, pieces of news and propagandas have prepared the public in London for the great retrospective of the (ex) Young British Artist considered the most successful artist still alive nowadays.

An overall excitement goes though the crowd outside the door. Is it widely recognized in fact that Hirst is a master in shocking people by mean of animals preserved in formaldehyde or extra-luxury pieces of art made of diamonds which has exceeded any other former work realized in the contemporary art market. In this way Hirst terrifies his spectators bringing them to extreme reactions: fear in front of a shark, pity in front of a lamb divided in two pieces, disgust in front of a carcass of a cow.

But once the spectator got inside the exhibition he will realize that this time the provocations made by Hirst will not only shock him.

This time the spectator has be challenged intellectually. This happens first of all because the objects displayed date back to the ‘80s and ‘90s Hirt’s production, and they have already shocked the audience rising international debates and critics. Now the artist seems to look for a personal dialogue with the spectator. There is no anymore surprise nor disappointment in the viewing of the death animals but, conversely, there is the will to understand the motivations and inspirations which brought the artist to the realization of such installations.

The challenge therefore is not anymore refer to the capacity of bare the view of carcass of death animals exposed, but it regards the ability to stay in front of this view and reflect about the actual meaning of this.

At this point one will realize that the work of Hirst goes behind the simply will to provoke, he is making the people think.

But think about what? ‘Religion, love, art and science’ he affirmed in an interview. The topic of the life’s cycle appears to be the life-motive of this exhibition. Starting from the black flies in the display case, which born, feed them-selves and died into the light of an insect-o-cutor, following by the ephemeral life of a butterfly, which are kept alive with fruits and flowers and, after death, they meticulously recollected in a memento mori-collage of cut wings.

After the ‘lesson’ I have had yesterday at the TATE exhibition, in fact, I avoided my-self to mere criticize the work of Damien Hirst, trying to give to this art event a sense which goes behind the surface of shocking images. And in order to do that we have to learn to stop for a moment and try to see behind the surface of the things.

In other words, it seems to me that Hirst understood his public and the market since the beginning of his career, and now he is getting to the point that there is no need to show to people new (or innovative) things in order to surprise them, but it is much more scary to make them think.

To be continued…

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One Response to Art into commodity and artist into a brand

  1. elisadarin 6 aprile 2012 at 10:37

    The critic to get the most media attention has been Julian Spalding, who published a book just days before the show’s opening titled Con Art–Why you ought to sell your Damien Hirsts while you can. Writing in the Independent, Spalding says: “Some people argue that Damien Hirst is a great artist. Some say he is an execrable artist, and others put him somewhere more boring in between. They are all missing the point. Damien Hirst isn’t an artist. His works may draw huge crowds when they go on show in a five-month-long blockbuster retrospective at Tate Modern next week. But they have no artistic content and are worthless as works of art. They are, therefore, worthless financially.”


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